Costs involved in buying a house

Costs involved in buying a house

Buying a house is exciting but wow, do you know the costs involved in buying a house? These can add up quickly! Transfer costs, attorneys, initiation costs, and municipal rates.

Based on the purchase price you should cater for approximately 8% – 10% of fees. The fees need to be paid in cash and cannot be added to the home loan. Thus, on a property of R1,5 million you would pay approximately R120,000 – R150,000 in fees. (This is just a rule of thumb calculation)

So before jumping into the property market and signing an Offer to Purchase (OTP), best you be sure that you’re ready for the financial commitment. An OTP is binding and the only escape clause (generally speaking) is that you are offered a loan by a bank. There’s no changing your mind once signed.

Know your rights

Firstly, it’s good to understand what your rights are regarding the OTP as many estate agents will bully you to simply sign. You are fully entitled to add a condition of sale that meets your needs. The buyer may not agree to it but unless you state your terms, no one will know.

You could for example state that the sale is on the condition that certain maintenance is completed, or that you receive a 100% loan from the bank at an interest rate that is acceptable to you. The wording is important as it needs to be acceptable to both you and the seller.

Estate Agents will do their best to deter you from any condition that is not suitable to them or their client. This however is where negotiation skills are needed as well as knowledge of your rights.

But, back to the costs involved in buying a house…

Transfer Costs

Unless you’re buying a brand new unit from a developer, you’ll be paying Transfer Costs. This is simply a tax to the government and is payable to SARS based on a sliding scale according to the purchase price.

The current costs (1 March 2021 – 28 February 2022) are as follows:

Value of Property (Purchase Price) less than R1,000,000 = 0% Transfer Duty

R1,000,001 – R1,375,000 = 3% of the value above R1,000,000

R1,375,001 – R1,925,000 = R11,250 + 6% of the value above R1,375,000

R1,925,001 – R2,475,000 = R44,250 + 8% of the value above R1,925,000

R2,475,001 – R11 million = R88,250 + 11% of the value above R2,475,000

Over R11 million = R1,026,000 + 13% of the value exceeding R11 million

This transfer duty is to be paid cash and cannot be paid from your home loan. Thus, if you buy a property for R1,5 million, you will need around R19,000 available to pay this fee.

Transferring Attorneys

Transferring attorneys are the next fee to pay. These attorneys will do the necessary legal work to ensure that the property is in your name. Also known as the Transfer Costs. I find these fees exorbitant as all practitioners simply print standard documents off their system and they don’t draw up anything special for you. And, they do the same work regardless of the purchase price, but you pay more if the property costs more.

This fee is based on a sliding scale and you have a little room to negotiate, it is pretty standard. I would however ask if any discount can be offered as you do sometimes get lucky.

On a property of R1,5million the standard transfer cost is R25,560 (as at 1 May 2021). This excludes VAT at 15%.

Here are the current recommended fees:

Value of Property or BondRecommended Fee for Transfer Attorney
Less than R100,000R5,400
R100,001 – R500,000R5,400 plus R860 per R50,000 or part thereof above that
R500,001 – R1,000,000R12,280 for the first R500,000 plus R1,660 per R100,000 or part thereof above that
R1,000,001 – R5,000,000R20,580 for the first R1,000,000 plus R1,660 per R200,000 or part thereof above that
Over R5,000,000R53,780 for the first R5,000,000 plus R4,200 per R1,000,000 or part thereof above that

There are also other small fees applicable to the transfer. Deeds Office fees, postage & petties, and other admin fees. These could add up to around R2,000.

Bond Attorneys

The Bond Attoneys are the ones who register your bond with the bank and they also work on a standard pricing based on the bond amount. You do have a slight chance negotiating a better fee but the attorneys are generally unreceptive to such requests. (I always ask anyway).

The bond attorneys use the same sliding scale of costs based on the bond amount being registered.

On a bond of R1,5 million the attorney fee is R25,560, excluding VAT. This is based on the latest recommended costs as at 1 May 2021.

Again, a few small admin type fees apply that could add up to around R2,000.

Bond Initiation Cost

The bond initiation fee varies from bank to bank but is around R6,000. This can be added to the loan but have a look at how much is will end up costing you if you do add it to the loan.

It’s better to simply pay it if you have the money available.

Municipal Rates

This is not strictly speaking a fee, it’s more an upfront cost that you do recoup. The municipality will generally ask for 3 months of rates to be paid upfront which secures them their money while the transfer is happening and while there is any uncertainty. Or they ay ask for a fixed amount, depending on your local municipality.

The accounts will be reconcilliated and you will not need to pay anything that is not due. Depending on your area and size of the property you could see an upfront cost of a few thousand rands.

Repayments on home loan calculator

Home Loan Calculator South Africa

The upfront costs involved in buying a house

Buying a house a big decision and huge financial cost!

Be sure that you are ready as the upfront costs can often come as a shock and place a lot of undue pressure on your finances!

Remember that you will pay the following costs based on the purchase price:

  • Transfer Costs
  • Transferring Attorneys
  • Bond Attorneys
  • Bond Initiation Cost
  • An upfront payment for Municipal Rates

Besides the costs it’s also a good idea to have a deposit available. That just makes saving for a house even harder.

If you are planning on selling your existing house before purchasing a new one, have a look at whether you are selling at a loss. Just some extra things to think about.


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